Welcome to Area 1: Pedagogy

Introduction

Foundations

In parallel to the exponential growth of Internet users worldwide over the last three decades, those situations where screens and digital technology mediate learning (Bower 2019) have become increasingly common – in formal, non-formal and informal contexts.

The Web started to be used for teaching purposes on a consistent basis in 1996, bringing about new types of learning experiences and educational practices, along with a host of expectations, hopes, myths and promises that too often did not live up to the hype (Bates 2005). While online courses and HE institutions specializing in this modality of education have proliferated dramatically since then, there are important inequalities influenced by socio-economic and cultural factors in terms of who can participate and benefit from it, (Czerniewicz 2018, Eynon & Malmberg 2021).

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, institutions and whole educational systems worldwide had no other choice but to undertake what has been referred to as an ‘online pivot’, a period during the successive lockdows of 2020 and 2021 when remote learning shifted from being an exception to becoming the norm. Due to the impossibility of delivering education on campus or at schools, educators and learners had to quickly adapt to a new context in which teaching and learning interactions could only take place online.

The situation revealed important skills gaps and social and material inequalities affecting the readiness of educators and students to fully participate in digital learning experiences. As a result of this, the transformation of pedagogy in this context has become a priority to many key stakeholders in the education sector, as evidenced by the high number of reports and initiatives launched in 2020 and 2021 with the aim of shaping the future of education and, in particular, addressing the role that digital technologies can or should play in it (e.g. Barber et al. 2021, Barosevcic et al. 2021, European Commission 2020, Facer & Selwyn 2021).

Digital education will probably still occupy a more central place in the design of learning experiences in a post-pandemic world, requiring more flexibility and giving more prominence to hybrid approaches that alternate remote and on-site activities or even combine online and on-campus participants, as proposed in the HyFlex approach (Rider & Moore 2021).

The modules in this section cover key aspects that any Digital Education Strategy should take into consideration. The first module addresses the importance of providing educators and students with ways of gaining self-awareness of their digital competence level, so that they can identify both weaknesses and strengths as a first step in enhancing their ability to engage effectively and appropriately in digital education.

The second module focuses on the support to educators in developing the digital education competences that they need to design and deliver suitable learning experiences, considering the characteristics of the Educational Technology (edtech) ecosystems in which their practice takes place. In a similar way, the third module explores how to support students in developing the digital skills they need to actively engage in digital education experiences and make the most of them.

The last module looks at the assessment implications of digital education, another aspect that Digital Education Strategies cannot ignore.